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Aspects of Medieval English Language and Literature

Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference of the Society of Historical English Language and Linguistics

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Edited By Michiko Ogura and Hans Sauer

This volume is a collection of papers read at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds in 2017, in two sessions organized by the Institute of English Studies at the University of London and four sessions organized by the Society of Historical English Language and Linguistics. Contributions consist of poetry, prose, interlinear glosses, syntax, semantics, lexicology, and medievalism. The contributors employ a wealth of different approaches. The general theme of the IMC 2017 was ‘otherness’, and some papers fit this theme very well. Even when two researchers deal with a similar topic and arrive at different conclusions, the editors do not try to harmonize them but present them as they are for further discussion.

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11 Ambiguity between the BE Perfect and the BE Passive in Old English11This study is supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas #4903 (Evo linguistics), 17H06379, by MEXT, Japan and JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C), JP17K02824.

1 Introduction

Extract

Michio Hosaka

11 Ambiguity between the BE Perfect and the BE Passive in Old English1

The aim of this paper is to clarify the cause of the ambiguity between the BE perfect and the BE Passive in OE on the basis of the comparison between the Latin and OE version of the Gospel of Matthew. It is also suggested how the BE perfect construction has changed through the history of English.

In Old English (OE) the construction of BE+Past Participle had two kinds of functions.2 The one with intransitive verbs is to form a perfect/pluperfect periphrasis as shown in (1).3



The one with transitive verbs is to form a passive periphrasis as shown in (2).



However, it should be noted that there can be found not a few ambiguous examples between passive and perfect readings in OE, as shown in (3).



In (3a), wurdon awende can be considered either passive or perfect because the verb awendan can be either transitive or intransitive as exemplified in (4a) and (4b) respectively.

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